Mike Zimmer Is Off and Running

Mike Zimmer Press Conference | Dallas Cowboys 2024. Zimmer took over as the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator in February 2024 when Dan Quinn accepted a head coaching job with the Washington Commanders. Zimmer coached the Vikings from 2014 to 2021.

Mike Zimmer formally fired up a reunion on Thursday, back with the Dallas Cowboys as a defensive coordinator, a team that employed him for 13 seasons from 1994 to 2006.

Mike Zimmer Is Off and Running

The former Minnesota Vikings head coach took two years off from the NFL until recently and will hope to help lead Dallas to the Promised Land — or at least beyond the NFC’s Divisional Round, which the Cowboys haven’t done since 1996.

Mike Zimmer Is Off
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Dallas introduced Zimmer on Thursday, and the 67-year-old was upbeat about his team’s outlook in 2024. “We got to get communication down first, the techniques down second. We got to make sure that we figure out where the personnel is and put them in the right place. And then get them coached up and let them go,” Zimmer told reporters.

The combination — Zimmer and the Cowboys’ defensive personnel — should be terrific for both parties: Zimmer will author his career’s next installment in a familiar place, while Dallas’ self-described Super Bowl window can remain open. In 2023, Dallas’ defense ranked fourth leaguewide per EPA/Play, meaning Dan Quinn’s (the previous defensive coordinator) act will be tough to follow. But the players are there: Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs are dream starters for a new coordinator to utilize.

Zimmer also said Thursday, “At the end of the day, it’s about what the players can do. We can be the smartest guys in the world, but if the players can’t do what we’re asking them to do, then we’re not very smart.”

The new Cowboys’ defensive coordinator scripted the NFL’s 10th-best record as the Vikings’ head coach in eight seasons. But the 2020 and 2021 seasons were beset by ho-hum win-loss outcomes, and after 2021, Minnesota’s ownership changed things up by firing general manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer. The franchise settled on Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager and Kevin O’Connell as skipper and has the league’s ninth-best record since Zimmer’s departure (20-14, .588).

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Zimmer’s boss, Mike McCarthy, said about Zimmer Thursday, “I think if you asked anybody, during my time in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers, the whole staff and so forth, Mike was always the toughest to play against. The division games are the hardest, clearly. But they were always extra tough against Mike, particularly just the way he would lay out the defense, the change-up calls, and a lot of things in football that everybody has a menu of things to look at.”

Here’s some footage from Zimmer’s introductory presser:

The Vikings won’t play the Cowboys in 2024 — unless the clubs meet in the postseason — but are scheduled to duel in 2025.

Mike Zimmer Might
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Zimmer will turn 68 in June.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.